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Graptemys pulchra, 072

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Graptemys pulchra Baur 1893 –
Alabama Map Turtle

Jeffrey E. Lovich1, James C. Godwin2, and C.J. McCoy3

1U.S. Geological Survey, Southwest Biological Science Center,
2255 North Gemini Drive MS-9394, Flagstaff, Arizona 86001 USA [[email protected]];

2Alabama Natural Heritage Program, Environmental Institute,
1090 S. Donahue Drive, Auburn University, Alabama 36849 USA [[email protected]];

3Deceased; formerly Carnegie Museum of Natural History,
4400 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213 USA


Summary. – The Alabama Map Turtle, Graptemys pulchra (Family Emydidae), is a moderately large riverine species endemic to the Mobile Bay drainage system of Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. Sexual size dimorphism is pronounced, with adult females (carapace length [CL] to 273 mm) attaining more than twice the size of adult males (CL to 117 mm). The species is an inhabitant of relatively large, swift creeks and rivers, often with wide sandbars. Stream sections open to the sun and with abundant basking sites in the form of logs and brush are preferred. Six to seven clutches of 4–7 eggs are laid each year on river sandbars. Although the species is locally abundant, populations are threatened by habitat destruction, declines in their prey base, commercial collection, and vandalism. It is listed as a Species of Special Concern in Alabama.

Distribution. – USA. Restricted to the Mobile Bay drainage system of Alabama, northwestern Georgia, and northeastern Mississippi.

Synonymy.Graptemys pulchra Baur 1893, Malacoclemmys pulchra, Malaclemys lesueurii pulchra, Malaclemys pulchra, Graptemys pulchra pulchra.

Subspecies. – None currently recognized.

Status.IUCN 2013 Red List Status: Near Threatened (NT, assessed 2011); CITES: Appendix III (all Graptemys spp.; USA); US ESA: Not Listed; Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources: protected under Nongame Species Regulation; Georgia Department of Natural Resources legal status: Rare; Mississippi: no protection.


Lovich, J.E., Godwin, J.C., and McCoy, C.J. 2014. Graptemys pulchra Baur 1893 – Alabama Map Turtle. In: Rhodin, A.G.J., Pritchard, P.C.H., van Dijk, P.P., Saumure, R.A., Buhlmann, K.A., Iverson, J.B., and Mittermeier, R.A. (Eds.). Conservation Biology of Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises: A Compilation Project of the IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group. Chelonian Research Monographs No. 5, pp. 072.1–072.6, doi:10.3854/crm.5.072.pulchra.v1.2014, //iucn-tftsg.org/cbftt/.

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Adult female Graptemys pulchra from the lower Tallapoosa River, Elmore County, Alabama.
Photo by James C. Godwin.



Distribution of Graptemys pulchra in Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia in southeastern USA. Purple lines = boundaries delimiting major watersheds (level 3 hydrologic unit compartments – HUCs); red dots = museum and literature occurrence records of native populations based on Iverson (1992), plus more recent and authors’ data; green shading = projected native distribution based on GIS-defined HUCs constructed around verified localities and then adding HUCs that connect known point localities in the same watershed or physiographic region, and similar habitats and elevations as verified HUCs (Buhlmann et al. 2009), and adjusted based on authors’ subsequent data as well as new locality data from Lindeman (2013).